Government stops increase in social tariffs for electricity and gas

Saturday, 16 February 2019 11:08
Government stops increase in social tariffs for electricity and gas © Pxhere
The federal government has agreed to freeze the social tariff for gas and electricity at its current level for the time being, following a public outcry over planned increases.
Last week it was announced that the social tariffs – granted to people on low incomes – would increase by 28% for gas and 22% for electricity. Organisations working with the poor were shocked at the extent of the increases, and wondered how the low-paid would manage to pay. The predicted consequences would include families going without heating, hot water and even cooking.

Consumer affairs minister Kris Peeters sat down with federal energy minister Marie-Christine Marghem to find a solution, which has now been agreed.

“We have a ministerial order ready which will reverse the announced increase,” Peeters said. “The social tariffs will therefore not be rising as planned.” The order was approved by ministers at their weekly meeting on Friday.

Peeters admitted there would be a cost, estimated at 13 million euros. “We will look into that,” he said. “The important thing is that the group of people who pay the social tariffs do not have to be confronted with such drastic increases.”

The question remains, however, as to whether the government – which is currently in caretaker mode – is allowed to implement such a freeze, which has an effect on the budget and is therefore in principle outside the minority government's competence. According to Peeters, an exception can be made.

“This is a matter of serious urgency,” he told the VRT. “People will be unable to pay the increased tariffs, or only with great difficulty. I hope it will be understood that a caretaker government must take this measure.”

For the future, the government has asked the energy regulator Creg to review the mechanism it uses to calculate prices for gas and electricity, to prevent such sizeable increases in the future. The regulator has six months to complete the task before the next price announcement, which are made twice a year.

Alan Hope
The Brussels Times
Google Plus

More Stories

Potentially deadly ​​virus puts unvaccinated Belgian dogs in danger

Potentially deadly ​​virus puts unvaccinated Belgian dogs in danger

The parvovirus - also known as 'dog typhoid fever' - could be on the rise in Belgium, according to reports.

New campaign to teach the dangers of railway crossings

New campaign to teach the dangers of railway crossings

A new campaign by railway manager Infrabel aims to target people who "do not realise the danger" of level crossings after research showed nearly half of those asked would ignore rules. 

Brussels forces public sale of building after 10 years of vacancy

Brussels forces public sale of building after 10 years of vacancy

The city of Brussels is the first municipality in the Brussels Region to successfully impose the forced sale of a vacant building under the Brussels Housing Code.